ASSESSMENTS

Biden Brings More Skepticism Into the U.S.-Saudi Relationship

MIN READFeb 26, 2021 | 21:22 GMT

Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud walks the halls of the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. after meeting with then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Oct. 14, 2020.

(MANUEL BALCE CENETA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

As the drivers bringing them together weaken, the United States and Saudi Arabia will become more conservative in deepening their strategic ties and more critical of one another’s differences. On Feb. 26, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden released a report publicly blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the 2018 assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and imposed visa bans on 76 Saudis associated with the act under a new so-called “Khashoggi Policy.” This, along with other recent public statements and arms freezes, indicates Biden preparing to shift U.S.-Saudi ties away from his predecessor’s close personal relationship with the kingdom. The White House appears ready to press Saudi Arabia to engage in more restrained foreign policy, emphasizing U.S. human rights objectives in its Saudi dialogue. That pressure will undoubtedly clash with several of the kingdom’s own deeply set imperatives, creating pushback from Riyadh and turbulence in long-standing U.S.-Saudi...

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